A Big-Hearted Cafe Is Serving Brunch With A Side Order Of Social Conscience

A new social enterprise is giving a major tourist hot spot a new heart.

The Heart Cafe at Sydney's iconic Bondi Beach opened its doors just over a week ago, but its been a project more than a year in the making.

And while it promises to deliver outstanding brunch options to hungry customers around the eastern suburbs, its real purpose lies in the life-long impact it's hoping to have on disadvantaged youth.

Wayside Chapel, who run the Wingspan Project, will  see a group of young people through a 12-month hospitality traineeship  at the busy cafe.

Image: Supplied - Wayside Chapel

Head of Innovation Strategy & Social Impact at Wayside Chapel, Lee Cooper said it meant the cafe was about more than giving the Bondi community an opportunity to enjoy good food and coffee.

"Through their purchasing power, they’ll also be helping young people out of homelessness, marginalisation and into future employment," Cooper told 10 daily.

"Its purpose is to give Bondi a new heart."

Cooper said the program had three core elements to help young people secure a better future.

The first involves their employment readiness program which allows students to get extensive skill development training to set them up with a basic foundation to undertake the actual traineeship in phase two.

Image: Supplied - Wayside Chapel

Seven trainees will work at the Heart Cafe in 2019, but Cooper said they will also be paid to work on their personal development and on community projects.

Heart Cafe trainees will receive a Certificate II in Hospitality following the completion of the program, in a bid to boost their employment opportunities in the industry.

The program is currently in its employment readiness stage and Cooper said Wayside is hoping to expand the project to provide more traineeship opportunities over time.

Cooper said the cafe has so far received a lot of positive feedback and many customers are really "buying into the journey of the cafe".

"First and foremost what we wanted to create was a cafe that would stand on its own two feet as an excellent place to eat," Cooper told 10 daily.

"We didn’t want to people to come in just because its had social purpose, we wanted the cafe to be just as good, if not better, than others in the area."

Buying Better

The Heart Cafe joins an increasing number of social enterprises popping up across Australia.

Associate Professor of Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Strategy,  Danielle Logue, who works at the University of Technology Sydney's Business School said Australians are increasingly questioning what kind of impact their buying can have on the environment and society.

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"We’re seeing more and more consumers that want to know that they are spending with a particular purpose in mind," Logue told 10 daily.

Logue, who has joined with Wayside as a research partner alongside fellow experts -- Dr Gillian McAllister and Dr Melissa Edwards, said one of the focuses of developing the program would be on scaling social enterprises upwards.

Image: Supplied - Wayside Chapel

"We've been working with Wayside for about six months now," she said.

"This is a fantastic opportunity for us, because it isn’t just a cafe, it's really an exploration on how we can create an organisation that can provide both social and financial returns."

Cooper told 10 daily the project was about expanding skills into the future and giving someone, who otherwise wouldn't be given one, a chance.

Rather than providing a large generalised traineeship program, Cooper said their project strategy aimed at working intensely with a smaller amount of people to see "long-standing" and "sustainable change".

Image: Supplied - Wayside Chapel

"We've got young people who are already getting a new sense of hope and purpose and belonging to something bigger," he said.

Find out more about the Wayside Project and The Heart Cafe here.

Featured Image: Supplied--Wayside Chapel

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